Bees on the Big Island

Big Island Bees is a family-owned and operated business. The store and museum is open to the public (including tours) and is a great opportunity to find out how honey is produced, and made into a variety of different products.

Big Island Bees is located just south of Captain Cook on the way down to Kealakekua Bay and has been operating since 1972.

The honey comes directly from the hives on the property and the hives are cared for without any kind of artificial feeds or chemicals. They produce two varieties of honey which are certified-organic (Lehua and Wilelaiki).

You can visit the store and museum and enjoy free tastings, or take a tour (there are two tours a day, at 10am and 1pm – the tour lasts about an hour and costs $30 per adult).

Each jar contains raw, unfiltered honey. They produce three different single-floral varietals. Each of these varieties comes from one source of nectar that the bees visit at different locations on the island at different times of year. The variation in each source of nectar gives the honey its distinct flavor.

The different types of honey include Lehua (from the Lehua blossoms on the ‘Ohi’a tree), macadamia nut (from the blossoms on macadamia nut trees) and Wilelaiki (from the blossoms of the Christmasberry trees) – all of which grow here on the island.

Other products containing honey include soap, balms, and even honey-flavored coffee.

The museum has a variety of beekeeping artifacts. If you take the tour you will get up close to the bees by experiencing an open beehive demonstration.

Even if you aren’t interested in the tour the store and museum make for an interesting stop on the way down to Two Steps or Kealakekua Bay. 

When and where?

Big Island Bees

Store and Museum – open Monday to Friday 10am – 3pm.

Beekeeping Tours

Monday to Friday, 10am & 1pm

82-1140 Meli Road, Suite 102
Captain Cook, HI 96704

Don’t use GPS to get there, follow the instructions below:

Take Napoopoo Road off Highway 11, immediately south of mile marker 111. Continue on Napoopoo Road for approximately 4.5 miles. Turn right at the stop sign to continue on Napoopoo Road. Turn right at Big Island Bees sign immediately past Hawaiian Host Macadamia Factory and Kealakekua Estates (Meli Road). Follow winding lane 2/10 mile and turn right at our gate, where you will find a parking lot in the front.

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Kona History: H.N. Greenwell Store Museum

The H.N. Greenwell Store was an important focal point of the Kona community in the late nineteenth century. The store museum provides a fascinating glimpse into what life was like in 1890s Hawai’i and is well-worth a visit.

The Kona Historical Society runs the H.N. Greenwell Store Museum which is located right beside Greenwell Farms. The store was originally built in 1870 and sold a variety of goods including fish, soap, leather, farming supplies, coffee beans and fruit. The store also served as the local post office, pharmacy, bank and general meeting place for those in the relatively isolated South Kona district.

The Greenwell Homestead

Beside the store was the Greenwell Homestead. Henry Nicholas Greenwell built the two-story home in 1850. Greenwell arrived in Hawaii in 1850 where he bought land in Kalukalu. He grew coffee, sold hides of goat and cattle, and produced butter which was shipped to the mainland. Today only the ruins of his house remain.

Constructing the Greenwell’s house presented a number of challenges. Slate was imported for the roof while lava rock was sourced locally for the walls. A considerable effort was required to bring the rock to the building site, most likely using a Hawaiian sled. Wood used as part of the internal structure of the house was shipped over from the West Coast. Wood used for the furniture inside the home was made from either koa or ‘ohi’a found in the island’s forests. 

Fresh water sources in the Kona area were scarce and difficult to access. The Greenwell’s collected rainwater using the run-off from the slate roofs and storing the water in underground cisterns next to the house. Today you can see the remains of the cisterns (see photo below).

The Store Museum

The store was a community hub and was run by Henry Greenwell’s wife Elizabeth Caroline Greenwell when he was away. The store was also the central office for the ranching operation that the Greenwell’s developed on thousands of surrounding acres that formed his enormous landholding.

The store is one of the oldest buildings in Hawai’i. Restoration of the building first began in 2006. Original lime mortar was replaced with modern materials and the shutters were repainted. The attic was also structurally reinforced.

In order to recreate the store as authentically as possible Greenwell’s diaries were consulted and the original inventory list of what he ordered was found in the Bishop Museum. Products were then reproduced to match those on the list.

Entry fee is a donation ($5 per person is recommended) and the museum is only open Mondays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm. The coffee farm is located right next door (Greenwell Farms). They offer great tours and free tastings.

Every Thursday at 10am the Kona Historical Society bakes Portuguese bread in a wood-fired stone oven which is located behind the store, down the hill. Find out more here.

When and where?

H.N. Greenwell Store Museum. Mondays and Thursdays only, 10am – 2pm.

81-6551 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI

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Top 5 sights on the Big Island

Two Steps Horizon Guest House Big Island Hawaii
Two Steps

1. Snorkel at Kealakekua Bay or Two Steps

Snorkel both or just one – both are fantastic. Kealakekua Bay is one of the best places to snorkel in Hawaii. An easy drive from Horizon Guest House then hike down to the Captain Cook monument and snorkel, or make a day of it on a commercial boat such as the Fair Wind snorkel cruise.

Just arrived and want to get in the water straight away? Two Steps is only minutes from Horizon Guest House. We have snorkels and masks on hand for you to use and you’ll be swimming with yellow tangs in no time.

Easy for beginners Two Steps is so-named because of the natural rock steps used to access the water.

Place of Refuge Big Island Horizon Guest House Kona
Place of Refuge

Tip: Don’t forget to visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (translated as Place of Refuge) on the left side of the bay.

2. Volcanoes National Park

Less than 1.5 hours away Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world, including the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. 

Volcano Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B

We recommend you make the visitor center your first stop on arrival to find out how active the volcanoes are and for the latest tips on the best vantage point. Whether it’s a crater rim drive or a serious hike there’s lots to see at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Make a day of it and have lunch at one of the restaurants in the village of Volcano. Don’t forget to check out the Volcano Art Center Gallery within the park for some amazing local artwork.

3. Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea Big lsland Hawaii Horizon Guest House Captain Cook

To really experience the wonder of Mauna Kea it’s best to time your visit at dusk to enjoy the amazing sunset and then, on a clear night, the starry night sky! You’ll need to stop at the Visitor Information Station at 9,200 ft. to not only check the status of the summit but most importantly to adjust to the change in altitude – in order to drive from sea level to the summit at 14,000 ft. in 2 hours it’s important to acclimatize.

Make sure you allow enough time to get there – check with Clem on the timing and how to work it in to your day out – the summit opens half an hour before sunrise and closes half an hour after sunset. A stop to stargaze at the Visitor Information Station on the way down is a must.

Tip: Don’t forget your jacket! It gets cold up there, so warm clothes are a important – we have jackets on hand if you need one.

4. Waipi’o Valley

They filmed the end of the movie Waterworld here and when you visit it’ll feel like stepping into another world. Meaning curved water in Hawaiian, Waipi’o Valley is a magical place which can be enjoyed from the scenic lookout. 

Waipi'o Valley Big Island Horizon Guest House

5. Hāpuna Beach

Hapuna Beach Big Island Hawaii Horizon Guest House

White sand beach, turquoise water – it’s the classic Hawaiian beach and it’s here on the Big Island. An easy drive north from Horizon Guest House Hāpuna beach is about half a mile long, often sun-drenched, and is shaded with trees and a picnic pavilion.

Tip: Arrive early to find a good park and a shaded spot on the beach.

5 ½. Circle the Big Island

So we cheated – just a little. It’s hard to squeeze the best into a top 5 and your trip to the Big Island wouldn’t be complete without a road trip around the island. Check with us on itinerary recommendations and how to make it work with your stay.

The Amazing Keitt Mango

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by Angus.
Keitt Mango tree

The amazing Keitt mango is a large variety – a massive serving of delicious, mango sweetness. There are 5 different mango varieties currently grown at Horizon Guest House, and one of the best is the Keitt.

Mango harvest

There are 40 different varieties are grown on the islands, and of these there are about 10 which produce the bulk of the mangos supplied. The Keitt is a late harvest variety. It usually ripens from August through October, and even into November. Other mangos here on the property, and state-wide in general, are usually finished by July or August.

Keitt Mango Sliced Open

The Keitt mango

The Keitt mango is large, easily weighing between 2 to 4 pounds each! This variety doesn’t change color to indicate that it’s ripe. In the past we would wait for the expected color change before picking – the Keitt’s green skin will stay green, even if it’s ripe – and then the fruit would fall to the ground, turning to mush from the bruising.

Keitt Mango Big Island Hawaii

Make sure the mango is ripe by pressing gently on the skin – it should give slightly. The mango may need to sit for a few days after picking to ensure it has ripened enough. Don’t store mangos in the fridge as they don’t like the cold. The best way to prepare a mango is to slice your way around the seed, cutting the flesh in a cross-hatch pattern.

Keitt Mangos fruit bowl Big Island Hawaii
Keitt mangos, bananas, lemons, limes, avocados and rambutan (red & spiky)

History of the Keitt

The Keitt mango originated from a seedling of the Mulgoba cultivar and was named for Mrs J.N. Keitt who planted the first seed in Florida in 1939. By the mid-1940s it was being grown commercially. This Keitt is also found throughout Central and South America as well as Hawaii.

Mango bread with cranberries

The trees grow to a medium size, allowing them to bear the heavy fruit they produce. The flesh itself is sweet, low in fiber, a thin seed, and the skin is mostly green with a purple or red tinge. This variety is anthracnose resistant, this means it is resistant to a fungal disease causing dark lesions. The fruit also has a long shelf life.

The versatile mango

The mango can be used to flavor pies, jam, chutney, ice cream, sorbets, relishes, preserves, juices as well as being used in a wide array of baked goods. But nothing beats the fresh fruit, especially when it’s chilled. A fresh mango topped cheese cake, or served alone with spoonful of vanilla ice cream… delicious! Here in Hawaii, mango bread is very popular as a fruit substitute for banana. When mangos are in season we often make mango flavored bread (with cranberries, pictured above) and mango muffins – a great addition to the breakfast menu.

Mango muffins

Mango wood

Mango wood has even become a popular wood both for furniture and also art objects. Mango trees reach maturity for harvesting at between seven to fifteen years. The wood itself does not require intensive processing. Another reason for its popularity is that it has a very similar look to teak.

Mango wood is sustainable. The wood is already a by-product of the industrial mango fruit industry and the trees are quick to mature compared to other trees. Once the trees have finished fruiting they are harvested for their wood and then replaced with the next crop of mangos.

Mango wood

Besides being an attractive tree, it produces a beautiful wood. Local craftsman use mango (when they can get it) to produce wooden art work as well as beautiful bowls and boxes (as pictured). Mango doesn’t have the same cache of koa, but because there is so little available, it ranks up there as far as desirability among the wood workers.

Mango wood boxes

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Koa: The Big Island’s Treasured Wood

Koa Pig Board Horizon Guest House Hawai
Pig board showing example of 'compression or fire' very rare even for curly koa

To the casual visitor, Hawaii is sunshine and beaches. But it’s more than that. If you visit often, or for long enough, or are lucky enough to live here, you’ll discover a unique product that is grown only in Hawaii (endemic) – and no, it’s not taro, lilikoi, or even lychee: it’s Acacia koa, simply known here as koa.

Koa stand Horizon BnB Kona Coast Hawaii
Plant stand by Russ Johnson

In ancient times, it was so prized that it was made kapu, prohibited for anyone to possess except for the royal class (ali’i). Upon the death of King Kamehameha in the late 1700’s, the kapu was removed, allowing all Hawaiians to possess this unique wood.

Koa bowl 2 Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island
Classic Hawaii bowl or umeke

Similar to black walnut and known for its hardness and extraordinary beauty, the Hawaiians found a wide range of uses for koa, from canoes to household dishes and utensils. When malihini settlers arrived, they discovered that it is also a ‘tonewood’ and could be used to make stringed instruments, such as the ukulele.

Koa Pen Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island
Curly koa ball point pen

Koa trees can attain a height of 50-75 feet and a trunk circumference of 20 feet. They are one of the fastest-growing Hawaiian trees, capable of reaching 20-30 feet in five years.

Koa wood Horizon B&B Hawaii
Detail of fine-grained koa

Ideally adapted to volcanic conditions, the larger Hawaiian islands supported huge forests of magnificent koa trees. However, the introduction of cattle, and the resulting clearance of huge swaths for pastures, severely reduced it’s habitat.

Koa trees are not endangered and recent restrictions on cutting, and protecting the seedlings from grazing cattle, sheep, and goats, have increased its population.

BUT! The only koa that can be harvested are dead or decaying koa trees on public lands.

Koa wood Horizon Guest House Hawaii
Headboard, part of 4-poster bed patterned on King Kamehameha’s bed

It can take more than 25 years before a seedling grows into a tree large enough to be useful. In the meantime, it’s a premium wood selling for as much as $150/board. A fine piece of koa furniture, such as a dining table will set you back as much as a small car. There are several galleries on the Big Island that showcase koa pieces, Hawaii Treasure Mill and Harbor Gallery among others.

Quilt koa Horizon Guest House Hawaii Big Island
Quilted bedspread in koa leaf pattern by Sig Zane
Koa bowl Horizon Guest House Kona Coast Hawaii
Curly Koa
Author: Angus Meek

All about Big Island Lava and the Hawaiian Diamond

A'a and Pahoehoe Big Island Horizon BnB
A'a and Pahoehoe lava

Hawaii is a series of islands composed, primarily, of lava. Lava isn’t all the same. Two main types are A’a (ah-ah) and pahoehoe (paw-hoey-hoey). There is also a third type, but you’re not likely to encounter it as it forms during submarine eruptions, this is called ‘pillow’ lava.

The dynamics of a lava flow generally dictate which type of lava forms. A’a lavas are associated with high discharge rates and steep slopes, while pahoehoe flows are associated with lower discharge rates and gentle slopes. Geology aside, pahoehoe is usually darker and a’a tends to be lighter and brownish to reddish. The reddish comes from oxidation of the iron to iron oxide.

Pahoehoe tends to be smooth. You can generally walk on it without shoes. A’a on the other hand is chunky and sharp  – think of the sound you’d make when trying to walk on it bare foot!

Two Steps Big Island Hawaii Captain Cook Horizon Guest House
Two Steps

If you snorkel at Two Steps, only minutes from Horizon Guest House and adjacent to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, or Place of Refuge, you’ll find yourself walking over smooth pahoehoe before entering the water.

Black sand Horizon Guest House Honaunau Captain Cook Hawaii
Black sand

When the lava is broken up into fine grains we end up with a black sand. However, when the mineral olivine is present in large enough quantities, and is packed into a sedimentary formation, natural erosion creates a green sand beach.

In the photo below is the ‘famous’ Green Sand Beach – also called Papakōlea Beach. This unique beach is located about two miles from the southern most point of the Big Island, South Point, and is approximately an hour’s drive south of Horizon Guest House.

Green Sand Beach Big Island Hawaii Horizon B&B Captain Cook
Papakōlea Beach

Papakōlea Beach is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, the other three are in Guam, Galapagos Islands and Norway.

The cliff in the background of the photo is a loose, sedimentary formation containing a relatively large amount of olivine as fine crystals. The green crystals are mixed with black (lava) and white (coral/shells) sand and, as a result, some patches of sand are greener than others.

How to get there

To get to Papakōlea Beach involves a drive and a hike (but it’s well worth the extra effort).

  1. Take the road to ‘South Point’ between mile markers 69 and 70 on Hwy 11 (between Kona and Volcano Village). Drive to the small harbor at the end. On the left hand side there is a car park.
  2. Walk from the car park to the ocean and take the road to the left (facing the water, toward the east). Follow the road with the ocean on your right for approximately 2.5 miles. At this point you will be above the beach. Next, make your way carefully along the lava cliff on the west side of the bay.

Tip: Leave early and try to make the trip on a weekday to avoid the crowds.

You can see in the next photo how green the olivine sand is. There is also a lava rock with olivine occlusions, and a bracelet made from larger olivine crystals.

Peridot Horizon BnB Hotel Captain Cook Hawaii
Olivine sand and lava

Fun fact! A type of olivine is peridot (also found in meteorites) and is a gem quality stone. Peridot is also referred to locally as ‘Hawaiian Diamond’. Found in only a fraction of the olivine deposits, it is the birthstone for the month of August.

Strange but true! When lava is ejected into the air, it can form an usual solid lava that has an uncanny resemblance to petrified wood. These samples below came from the Hualalai mountain, which is the mountain you see when you land at the Kailua-Kona airport.

Solid lava Hawaii Big Island Horizon Guest House
Solid lava almost identical to petrified wood!
Author: Angus Meek

Kealia Ranch Store

The Kealia Ranch Store is famous for its shaved ice, and it’s definitely worth a stop to check out their stock of local arts and crafts – and snacks!

The Kealia Ranch was originally founded in 1915 and is still operating as a working cattle ranch today, with stock of Hereford and Angus cattle. They supply grass-fed beef locally, and also farm cacao and coffee on the ranch. The ranch is located less than a mile from Horizon.

What you'll find

You’ll find local snacks, including ‘ulu chips (made from breadfruit), assorted dried fruit (mango, pineapple, plum, lemon and ginger), locally-made pepper jelly, honey (produced on the ranch) and Kona coffee.

You can even buy beef direct from the ranch! (Perfect for grilling out for dinner at Horizon). Includes, rib eye, t-bone, sirloin, chuck and porterhouse.

Locally made arts and crafts.

Shaved ice

Choose from a great variety of flavors, add ice cream and then toppings of your choice. Fruit popsicles are also available.

There is a wide range of Kealia Ranch apparel.

They also stock some beautiful koa products, including cutting boards.

Browse their stock of unique, locally made arts and crafts – perfect for gifts.

The Kealia Ranch Store is less than a minute’s drive from Horizon – perfect for a shaved ice on your way back from the beach, or browsing for a gift.

When and where?

The Kealia Ranch Store is open Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday, 9:30am – 4:30pm.

86-4181 Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, HI 96704

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In the orchard at Horizon: what we grow to harvest

We have a large variety of fruit trees that we grow here on the property. Growing conditions on the Big Island are perfect for almost everything although some varieties can be tricky and the harvest unpredictable.

Avocados

We have two varieties, the sharwil and the kahalu’u. Avocado season begins around June and runs through November/December.

Bananas

We are currently growing apple bananas in our vegetable garden. Bananas grow year round.

Jaboticaba

We have one jaboticaba tree. The tree produces a black plum. It takes 12-15 years to get your first harvest! Makes great syrups and jams. Flowers once a year, around September/October.

'Ulu (breadfruit)

Fruits all year. Great in a stir fry or even in pancakes!

Lemons

We currently grow Meyer lemons and these grow year round.

Lilikoi (passionfruit)

Lilikoi or passionfruit, grows on a vine and can produce fruit year round depending on rainfall.

Limes

We grow Tahitian seedless limes. These grow year round.

Lychee

Usually produces fruit in late summer but can be unpredictable. Some years there is a good harvest, other years we can have almost no fruit at all.

Mangos

We have a few mango trees in the orchard, including the Keitt mangos which can grow quite large. The quantity of the fruit produced can vary year to year.

Oranges

We grow six varieties of oranges, including navel and tangelo. We have oranges fruiting almost 9 months out of the year.

Papaya

Papaya grow year round here and we have many trees on the property. They are also a favorite of Cleo and Ele who are particularly good at finding fallen papaya (and eating them too, of course).

Pineapple

It can take up to 18 months to get your first pineapple, but it’s worth it! We are currently growing just the white pineapple (sugarloaf variety). Produces fruit in late fall.

Pomelo

The ancestor to the grapefruit, this huge fruit is usually ripe in the fall.

Rambutan

The rambutan is a cousin to the lychee. It’s a hairy red fruit with white flesh and a stone. The tree produces fruit in September.

Starfruit

Starfruit is available year round but tends to produce a greater quantity in the fall.

Almost all of this fruit will appear on the fruit platter for breakfast, depending on the time of year!

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South Kona Fruit Stand

The South Kona Fruit Stand has been a fixture in South Kona for a number of years. They grow and sell their own produce as well as serving smoothies, coffee and sandwiches.

The fruit stand is located just south of the intersection of Highway 11 & Highway 160). Their distinctive signs will give you forewarning of where to pull over. Take note – it’s a one way entrance and a one way exit. There is also easy parking.

What you'll find

You’ll find a wide variety of homegrown produce (depending on the season), some familiar snacks, and some homemade baked goods (try the lilikoi bars!). They also do made-to-order sandwiches.

Outdoor seating is located above the parking lot and is accessed by a path that runs alongside the main shop.

The South Kona Fruit Stand is a great little fruit stand and a great addition to the South Kona community. It doesn’t have the wide selection of fruit available at some of the bigger farmers markets but it makes up for it with a unique local charm of its own.

When and where?

The South Kona Fruit Stand operates everyday except Tuesday. Open 10-5pm Mon, Wed, Thurs and Fri & 10-4pm Sat and Sun.

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Restaurant review: The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill

The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill is a South Kona institution. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Korner Pocket is in Kealakekua close to Highway 11. Open every day, they also do a Sunday brunch. A great place to stop on your way south!

We arrived for lunch mid-week and there were plenty of tables. There is also easy parking in the parking lot in front of the restaurant. You can choose to eat inside or outside where there is a covered lanai. The service was great and the menu has some great options. 

Of course it is a sports bar and this is well-catered for with nine TVs and two pool tables. It can be a little noisy inside but there is a great outdoor lanai with seating which we found to be perfect. 

The menu

Korner Pocket uses fresh, grass-fed beef for their hamburgers, served on locally-made fresh buns. They also offer – slow-cooked prime rib, spicy poke nachos, fish and chips, tacos and salads, as part of an extensive menu.

What we ordered

(Above) Blackened Ono Sandwich $16.95 – Lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion & aioli on a French brioche bun with a side salad.

(Above) KP Patty Melt $14.95 – Toasted rye, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese.

We took advantage of the outdoor seating which is to the left as you walk into Korner Pocket from the main parking lot entrance (the outdoor seating is located behind the screen in the photo below).

The fish sandwich was delicious and perfectly cooked as was the KP patty melt. 

The Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill is a great place to grab a quick lunch, or to watch the game, or to simply spend the afternoon or evening having a leisurely meal. 

Korner Pocket Sports Bar & Grill

81-970 Haleki’i Street 
Kealakekua

Hawaii 96750

Ph. 808 322 2994

Hours: Mon – Thurs 11am – 8pm, Fri – Sat 11am – 9pm, Sun 9am – 8pm

https://kornerpocketkona.com

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